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December 15, 2017

Business Basics

Protect Your Assets

Property • Disaster Planning • Cybersecurity • Intellectual Property • Insuring People

| 4/21/2017

Cybersecurity: Protecting Your Digital Fingerprints

If you think your business is too small to attract a cybercriminal or that you don’t have anything worth stealing, you are wrong. Small businesses have valuable information in their databases and, unlike large corporations, often no preventive measures in place to repel cyberattacks. Potential threats may come in the form of:

Defacing your website, hacking your system and compromising webpages to allow invisible code that may download spyware onto your device.

Stealing your computer files and hardware or peripherals (CDs, flash drives, etc.); intercepting your emails.

Locking the computer and/or crashing your system with the ultimate goal of preventing you from conducting business with your internet-connected systems.

Sent over the internet for the purpose of finding your files and deleting critical data or locking your computer/system; includes ransomware that restricts access to the infected computer/system and demands a ransom payment for removal of the restriction.

 

Intellectual Property: Protecting Your Ideas

Your company’s intangible assets – its reputation, name recognition, know-how and/or creative ideas – have no physical existence, yet they have commercial value and should be protected in one of three ways:

A patent is a property right granted by the U.S. government to an inventor to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention without permission. “Utility patents,” for new inventions or functional improvements of existing inventions, remain in effect for 20 years; “design patents” are effective for 14 years.

Following public disclosure of an invention, the inventor has a year to file for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov). You can apply for a patent online yourself; however, USPTO recommends seeking specialized legal help due to the complexities of filing.

Broadly speaking, trademarks are words, symbols, names, internet domain names, packaging and labeling that distinguish one business’s product from another’s. Trademarks may be registered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or, for more limited state protection, through the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Although registration provides greater protection, trademarks that are not registered still legally protect owners.

Original writing, musical works, artistic designs and other works of expression are protected under federal copyright law, which gives the author exclusive rights to use the works. Copyright lasts 70 years after the author’s death.

An author’s copyright is automatic when a work is created; for extra protection, however, simply add the word “copyright” or the symbol ©, the first year of publication and name of the copyright owner at the top of the page. To officially register a copyright (necessary if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement), visit www.copyright.gov.

 

5 ways to reduce your cyber vulnerability

Equip each computer in your business with antivirus software/antispyware and update often. Use a firewall and encrypting information to safeguard your internet connection. Password protect router access on your Wi-Fi network.

Establish written policies for handling/protecting sensitive data, using social networking sites and reporting lost or stolen equipment; hold employees accountable if they violate these policies.

Create a separate user account for each employee and restrict administrative privileges to trusted IT staff and key personnel. Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often; better yet, implement multifactor authentication (password + additional information) to gain entry.

Back up critical data on all computers automatically or, at the very least, weekly; store copies offsite or on the cloud.

Lock computers when unattended, and caution employees to be watchful when traveling with or using company laptops away from your business site. Require employees to password protect personal mobile devices that access your business network and install security apps to prevent data theft.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Business Basics

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